Republicans ‘Serious’ About Better Utilizing Data, Send Congressional Census

After President Barack Obama won re-election, Republicans were left soul searching. Although their strongest candidates chose not to run in 2012, the economy, deficit, and exorbitant gas prices still positioned them for success. They averted complete failure by holding onto a majority in the house, but nonetheless are left to figure out their missteps and more importantly their future.

The GOP has turned to research to guide their path and recently sent out a “congressional census” questionnaire to party members. Being a professional researcher and a political junkie, such news is especially interesting to me. They posed some useful questions that may be heavily considered as the midterm elections grow near, most notable of these:

Section I – Political Profile

Q6. Do you think that as a political party, Republicans need to reassess their strategies and tactics to help turn out every voter possible?

Q7. Do you believe the Republican Party should continue to embrace social issues or are these too divisive when it comes to winning elections?

These seem to be useful queries. Of course the results won’t be publicly divulged, but the answer to question #7 may be evident in the messaging coming from the GOP next year. It’ll be one of the biggest questions the Republican Party faces after failing to capture an acceptable share of the youth vote.

Now as you may have noticed, I included quotation marks around “serious” in the title. This is because they must only be somewhat serious. Their questionnaire is seriously flawed. Some of their questions are incredibly leading. It seems they may have written this questionnaire in-house rather than finding a reputable research firm. Here are some of the more suspect questions (I’ve underlined the specific portions that are leading):

Section III – Domestic Issues

Q5. Do you favor a major overhaul of the current Federal Tax Code–currently thousands of pages long–that would replace today’s burdensome tax system with one that is simpler and fairer.

Q7. How concerned are you that our federal deficit–presently over $16.7 trillion–will seriously jeopardize our nation’s economic security for future generations?

Q8. Do you believe more federal laws that impede individuals’ second amendment rights are the proper response to recent gun violence in our nation?

Question 8 is the most ridiculous. No American red blooded wants federal laws that they feel impede on constitutional rights. The debate is over what laws impede on these rights. If the GOP is genuinely curious as to how closely they should align with the NRA, they should be asking these questions in a more serious, unbiased manner. If they are looking to confirm that they should continue what they did in 2012 and the years preceding then they are dead on.

I wonder if the leading questions are somewhat intentional, meant to generate strong feelings and donations rather than useful data. If that’s not the case, then it would seem they were unable to turn off the politi-speak for one of the rare instances where they didn’t need to convince someone to vote for them. Fortunately, they included at least a few very important questions without overly leading phrasing.

As the 2016 presidential field begins coming into focus (Rand Paul is a near lock to run) and the critical 2014 mid-term elections inch closer, the GOP needs to take data seriously. They must gather all they can and use it to refine messaging and leverage with technology to target voters.

reince-priebus

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34 thoughts on “Republicans ‘Serious’ About Better Utilizing Data, Send Congressional Census

  1. The questionnaire is broken into four sections:
    1. Political Profile – They learn about their voters. Decently written.
    2. General Issues – They collect information on most important issues, issues where the party is not viewed as positively, and other useful data.
    3. Domestic Issues – They ask questions in a manner where if you say no, you’re probably a communist.
    4. National Defense – You hate America if you say no to any of the questions based on the way they’re worded.

    I’d love to be in the room when the results of this study are presented.

  2. I do think we will see a focus-shift away from social issues. No doubt the GOP is the party of big business. No doubt big businesses are the ones spending the most money to influence the political message (thanks, Citizens United). They have strong incentives to push libertarian sentiments which are still surprisingly (to me) popular. Republicans struggled to take advantage of their perceived economic strength in 2012 in part because of the fanaticism of some of their candidates’ social views.

    Look, Evangelicals know which party they belong to. Strategically speaking, I don’t think the GOP needs to change it’s social positions, just take the edge of the message–and stop making primaries a race-to-the-right.

  3. I find it amusing that Republicans have to ask themselves what their problem is. The answer is simple. Compassion versus hate. They want to continue passing gov’t policies that are hateful to certain groups. They are pandering to religious leaders on the right who use hate so that they can feel like they belong to some group. Without the hate, those particular leaders wouldn’t have their flock. And the Republicans feed off that. All it takes to change is to imagine yourself in the position of a person in these hated groups. Then when any policy comes up, ask if this policy is just out of hate, or does it solve a real problem. Banning gay marriage is a perfect example. And the sad part is that Republicans are looking to change in order to get more votes, not because they realize it is wrong to be hateful and it is right to accept people for who they are. Think about it. If someone hates blacks, they will be a Republican. If someone hates gays, they will be a Republican. If someone hates feminism, they will be a Republican. If someone hates Muslims, they will be a Republican. If someone hates immigrants, they will be a Republican. If someone hates Latinos, they will be a Republican. If someone hates people on welfare, they will be a Republican. If someone hates atheists, they will be a Republican. And this is the base that Republicans have to appeal to first. People like you who have no compassion for people that are different from them.

    If Democrats are smart, they’ll constantly bring up these issues and expose the Republicans for the haters that they are. The people of this country, especially the younger people, will not put up with it. And as the older people who grew up with this hate start dying off, so too will the Republican Party, unless they give up their stubborn stance on the social issues.

    • Lance, thanks for commenting. You know I love my loyal readers. How do you like the new site design?

      I think your argument about hatred is flawed. If someone hates Israel, Christians, or the wealthy, what party do they vote for? I’ll let you answer, and I’m not denying that hate has become too big a part of the political landscape.

      To your other point. Yes, this survey would seem to indicate that the GOP at least cares to some extent what people think about social issues, and they may use that information to gauge how hard they should push on them. I’m not sure I have a problem with it though. It may not be a genuine change of heart, but they’re not pretending it is. Hillary Clinton has always opposed same-sex marriage, but recently changed her mind when she looked at some polls and forecasts for 2016. Politicians aren’t genuine, no big surprise. Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act, the single biggest road block to gay marriage. What say you?

      Go Tigers!

  4. You just made my point. You have no compassion. I listed groups that are minorities, that are suffering an injustice or are in some other way not being treated as equals, just because of hatred and no social or economic reason. You listed Christians, the largest religious group in the country and they are not suffering from inequality. I don’t know of any laws past, present or proposed that would treat Christians as unequals. In fact, they are getting laws passed that treat them “above the law”. It’s like reverse-discrimination. They are not being attacked. They are being asked to stop attacking others. And then you have the Wealthy. I don’t know of any rich people suffering from inequality, unless they belong to one of the groups that I mentioned. But they sure aren’t suffering inequality for being wealthy. So then you have Israel. Well that story has two sides more than any other we have mentioned. There is compassion for Israelis who are regularly bombed and who live in a region where people want them eliminated. And there is compassion for the Palestinians who were forced off their land and still living in terrible refugee camps. So people who hate Israel do so because of compassion for Palestinians. That’s a 50/50 compassion stance.

    Also, keep in mind that 42% of Christians voted Obama. 50% of Catholics voted for Obama. Compare that to the number of gays, blacks, latinos, etc that voted for Romney. When the party in general hates a group, they are going to get the numbers that Romney got, not the numbers that Obama got from the groups you listed.

    And here is another way to look at it. If gays stopped their “attack on Christians” (mind you, we are talking about right winged Christians in the 57% that voted Romney), then these Christians would start taking away more and more RIGHTS of gays. First deny them marriage, then deny them adoption rights, then etc. They are not happy unless they have a common enemy, so there will always be something next. That minister from Westboro would never stop. But if those Christians stopped attacking gays, the gays would no longer have any “beef” with them. There would be nothing more for them to fight them about. The gays would not be fighting to take away their rights. And in fact, many gays would start embracing Christianity more and Christianity would actually grow (not to mention the heterosexuals that might start going to church again or for the first time). Do you think MLK wanted to turn the tables and make whites be unequal? No, he just wanted equality for everyone. Right wing Christians do not want that and that is who the Republicans like to keep happy in their base.

    You live in your perfect world where you don’t have to suffer inequality and you and many Republicans like you just don’t want to take a moment to understand what it means to be treated unequal. Next time you are in the vicinity of a gay pride parade, go there and find the group of protesters that are always there with their “God Hates Fags” signs and listen to what they say. THOSE are the type of people that Republicans continue to court. THOSE are the people that Republicans don’t want to lose from their base. Open your eyes and open your heart. Stop making people like me out to be bad or evil just because of who we are.

    • Lance, I love and appreciate you reading and commenting on my blog, but now I must ask if you’re familiar with the term “straw man argument.” This is one if I’ve ever seen one.

      The blog post is about the GOP trying to learn more about their base, the hopeful future data can guide the party towards, and the flawed effort at questionnaire writing that was made.

      Nonetheless, I won’t use that as a reason to avoid answering your debate point, but I’ll keep it succinct.

      1) Your point is a straw man argument because you conjure up a villain that represents the most uneducated, vile image you could present. I certainly don’t attend Westboro Baptist Church, nor do they represent a notable portion of Baptists. They are vocal and wacky, but they are not relevant to this argument beyond the possibly that they hurt your feelings.

      2) Allow me to present two legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons why one could oppose same-sex marriage without being full of hatred. In fact, I think if you read these points with an open mind, and recognize that I’m not arguing with you, but rather sharing how some people think, you may feel that many less people hate you than you previously thought.

      a. Did you know that the Catholic Church was responsible for half of the adoptions in MA? That was before they passed gay marriage and the state shut down their adoption charity because they would not offer adoptions to homosexual couples. Now I know you think the Catholic Church is to blame and that’s valid and all, but the bottom line is the foster children are worse off. Again, I know you’re going to say the Catholics are to blame for discriminating against homosexual couples, but that’s how they interpret their ancient 4,000 year old texts. The point here is that the children are worse off because MA didn’t want to discriminate.

      b. This one is simpler, maybe one simply doesn’t believe the government should be involved in marriage at all (why does someone pay less in taxes because the elect to have a stay at home spouse anyhow?), and maybe one doesn’t think expanding state sponsored marriage, a political point they already think is wrong, to a new group makes sense. Does that make them full of hate? I hope this helps, and maybe brightens your day (or in this case night)…and I’d still like to get your opinion, as a professional, on how poorly the questionnaire was written.

      BTW, I didn’t list “Traditional Values” as one of my three most important issues (Taxes, Federal Deficit, Economy).

      • You said, “The blog post is about the GOP trying to learn more about their base, the hopeful future data can guide the party towards, and the flawed effort at questionnaire writing that was made.”

        I was addressing the problem with their base, which is what I thought you were partially looking for. But to address you points about the questionnaire, you are absolutely right. With your marketing background, it is easy for you to see in a heartbeat. And I think anyone with half a brain can already see that the results will indicate that everyone in the party is on the same page and that they don’t really need to change anything. They would be incredibly smart to hire a non-partisan, outside consulting firm to create the questionnaire.

        Now to the other points:

        1) You are right that I used the most vile person I could and from your response that threw you off of the point being made. It was my mistake to use him in the argument. But I disagree that it is a straw man argument. You can take the same sentence and replace that minister with Michelle Bachman, Mitt Romney, John McCain or many other Republican politicians at all levels of gov’t *who represent the Republican platform*. The point you missed is that the Republican Party Platform is all about giving in to the right wing Christians who are hateful toward gays and other minority or unequal groups and once they start gaining traction, I believe they would start taking more. And people like Michelle, Mitt, and John would rather keep that base than show compassion toward gays. At least with Rand Paul, he isn’t in favor of a Federal ban, but so far I can’t see someone like him getting very far in a primary just like his dad didn’t. And he isn’t in favor of national equality either.

        2a) So gays wanting to be treated as equals are the reason that children are worse off in MA? This sounds more like the straw man to me. And if people are blaming the gays for that, then that is hating the gays. I think the Catholic Church’s stance on the issue proves my point. Their hatred for homosexuals outweighed the compassion they wanted to give to the kids. The state wanted compassion for both.

        2b) Denying people equal rights is hatred, no matter how much you sugar-coat it. Saying “I really like a lot of black people, but I don’t think they should get a full vote” is the same thing. You make it sound like you don’t hate them, and you might even be friends with some, but the hatred is there or else you wouldn’t want to keep them as unequals. Would you agree? How about this? Let’s say that there is a physical trait about you personally. And then the gov’t says they are going to deny people like you who have that physical trait the right to marry because we don’t need those people also getting a tax break. Are you saying that you would be OK with that and that you wouldn’t think that the people pushing for that didn’t hate you for that physical trait? And if you are against married people getting tax breaks, why not fight for equality for all first (everyone can marry who they love), and then fight for the tax issue, or fight for them both at the same time? You have the choice to get married and get that tax break. I’ve been with my partner for over 12 years and I don’t even get the choice. It scares me that someday he could end up in the hospital on his death bed and me be told that I was not allowed to see him. There are tons of default contractual “things” that are put in place when 2 people can marry. I don’t even care about the federal taxes. This will be the last time I tell you this, but it isn’t about the effing taxes. And I don’t know that you would have much luck finding gay couples who would care about it that much either. I don’t even know if we’d get a tax break. I don’t care if you want to champion the cause that married people shouldn’t get tax breaks, but that is a ridiculous reason for saying that gays should not be allowed to get married. And to tie this back to the point, it shows lack of compassion. You think taxes are more important than equality.

        Oh, and by the way, as a Republican, conservative, wouldn’t you be in favor of people being able to pay less taxes? Why in the world would you want to now block a specific group of people from being able to pay lower taxes?

        OK, so one final question about the Republican Party. I’m saying that their problem is their lack of compassion for many groups of people. You seem to be arguing hard against my comment. So do you believe that the Republican platform and the policies being pushed by Republican national and state politicians are based on compassion for the groups I mentioned before?

  5. No, I don’t believe they are based on compassion. I don’t think public policy should typically be based on compassion, more so research heavy, outcome focused ideas. Liberal fiscal policy is probably largely compassion oriented.

    • I believe in research and focusing on outcomes too, but I believe you have to start from a mindset of compassion instead of hate.

      OK. I lied. I have one more final question. Do you seriously believe that I should not be able to marry my partner just because we would then get (possibly) a tax break that you would not get as a single person?

      • I think the mindset should be efficacy… neither compassion nor hate. It is compassionate to have two years of unemployment benefits, but data shows that six months would decrease the length of the unemployment for these folks. Compassion vs. Data. Fiscal policy shouldn’t get emotional.

        I’m fine with civil relationships that ensure hospital visitation rights and such. Don’t think expanding social security spousal benefits is needed. My girlfriend doesn’t have them (although I’m not old enough anyway).

  6. Lance, do you believe in the basic concept of equal opportunity for all?…or is it your belief that we should have an equal outcome for all?

    If you answer yes to the first question, then everything you posted in your comments is bogus.

    If you say the second question is your view, then we all should hit up Warren Buffett and Bill Gates for some of their wealth…equal outcome after all, right?

  7. Everything in Lance’s comments show an intolerance for people who think differently than he does. Liberals are all for tolerance as long as one believes the same as they do, but if you have a different opinion, then you are excoriated and vilified and sometimes, called every name in the book.

    Equal opportunity for all means just that…you will have the same opportunities as everyone else does to make your life and circumstances better.

    The leftist mindset is that everyone should have equality of outcome. They bitch and moan about the one percent on the right,ie. the Koch brothers, Mitt Romney while giving the one percent on the left a pass, ie. George Soros, Warren Buffett, (who owes a Billion dollars in back taxes), and Bill Gates.

    Most of these people, right and left, who attained great wealth, worked their asses off and sacrificed to get it. I admire people who were able to make a success of themselves and know that I and everyone else had/has the same opportunity. I don’t “occupy” some city park or city main street to cry about “fairness” because lets face it, life isn’t fair. ( If it was, I’d be rich as well as smart and handsome…amirite? )

    Conservatives don’t want to do away with social programs that help the less fortunate, but we do want to make it harder for people to game the system. And lets face it, if we don’t reform these programs, there will not be any money to pay for it. If we keep traveling the path we’re on, soon the US will be in the same boat as Detroit.

    As far as “gay marriage”, I don’t believe in it. As Ryan said, civil unions to facilitate inheritance issues, hospital visitation and insurance questions should suffice.

    The whole point of the radical gay agenda is to tear down traditional family values.

    • Our new governor (in NC) just signed cuts to unemployment insurance. I think the new rates are reasonable and I don’t think they are too high. Problem is, federal government wants NC to pay more benefits out, but the state can’t afford it. Feds going to cut funds because NC is cutting benefits. If NC doesn’t cut benefits the state falls further into debt anyway. It’s a lose-lose. Hope the connection is clear.

      http://www.shrm.org/LegalIssues/StateandLocalResources/Pages/NC-Cuts-Weekly-Unemployment-Benefits.aspx

      To Mike G, thank you for commenting. Glad to have comments flowing.

      I disagree on your very last sentence. Want to make sure Lance knows that. I understand it is a major thing for him to not feel hated and discriminated against. I explained my position pretty clearly and I think a fair minded person would say it is certainly not hateful, though maybe foolish. I do think upsetting the religious right makes gay marriage a little more appealing for some of its most ardent proponents.

      Also, I’m not sure I’ve ever said this, but Lance at minimum, played a huge role in helping me get an internship that in turn helped me get into one of the more prestigious graduate programs in my field and again in turn get my current job. He is part of the Clemson family, even if we disagree on politics and I thank you for what you did for me. I do appreciate it.

      • I’m not saying that Lance is a radical, although from his comment I get the gist that he might be gay. I don’t really care about that. What he does in private is none of my business…but it becomes my business when the radical gays try to force churches to perform gay marriages against their beliefs.

        We’ve been through this before, if you study the Bible. Remember Sodom and Gomorrah?

        I don’t hate anyone, but I do seriously dislike when people try and force their beliefs on me or call me a hater if I don’t go along.

      • I’ll address your first comment later, but I saw this come through and have to ask one question. Where did you here that “gays [will] try to force churches to perform gay marriages against their beliefs.”? First of all, they wouldn’t need churches to get married and secondly, there are already churches that would perform the marriages (they currently perform commitment ceremonies for now). So they wouldn’t need to force other churches to perform them and for something as important as marriage, they wouldn’t want to go where they are disliked. So I’m curious where you got that information.

      • Here is an example where a Christian Retreat was forced to perform a same-sex marriage.

        http://coffeeshopatheist.com/blog/2012/01/nj-judge-orders-methodist-resort-to-perform-same-sex-marriage/

        Also, here are quite a few examples including an outrageous one in New Mexico where photographers declined a wedding or commitment ceremony gig and were sued for discrimination.

        http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/03/26/gay-marriage-religious-freedom-are-incompatible/

      • Here’s the one I referenced a couple comments ago:

        – Catholic Charities was barred from assisting in adoptions in Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., and Illinois and excluded from future contracts because it declined to consider same sex couples. Sorry kids, but the agenda impresarios need to make an example.

    • You said:
      “Everything in Lance’s comments show an intolerance for people who think differently than he does. Liberals are all for tolerance as long as one believes the same as they do, but if you have a different opinion, then you are excoriated and vilified and sometimes, called every name in the book.”

      – I hear liberals say the exact same thing about Conservatives. And I’ve seen plenty of it from Conservatives. I won’t start another discussion by addressing that, but I will tell you what I believe and a distinction that I think you are missing. I don’t have an intolerance for your beliefs. I have an intolerance for forcing your beliefs on others. I believe that your beliefs are misguided, and yes, hateful, because I consider any time that you want to treat people with less than equal rights, then that is hate. You only want them to be less equal because there is something about them that you are not comfortable with or just don’t like. Otherwise you would not care if they were 100% equal. BUT, I do not believe we should enact any laws to keep you from believing what you believe or forcing you to believe something else. Be hateful if you want. That is OK.

      Next You said:
      “Equal opportunity for all means just that…you will have the same opportunities as everyone else does to make your life and circumstances better.”
      And in the next to last paragraph you said:
      “As far as “gay marriage”, I don’t believe in it. As Ryan said, civil unions to facilitate inheritance issues, hospital visitation and insurance questions should suffice.”

      – Can you see what you just did there? This is how I will rephrase what you said: “Everyone should be equal, except gays who I say can be 80% equal, because there is just something about them that is wrong or that I don’t like, so they don’t need or deserve as much equality as us heterosexuals. And they should be happy with 80% equality.” — My life would be better if I could marry my partner. According to your first statement, I should be allowed to do that to be equal. And I do not care if any religion recognizes the marriage or not, so long as my gov’t recognizes my marriage in EVERY equal way as every other equal marriage.

      Next you said:
      “The leftist mindset is that everyone should have equality of outcome. They bitch and moan about the one percent on the right,ie. the Koch brothers, Mitt Romney while giving the one percent on the left a pass, ie. George Soros, Warren Buffett, (who owes a Billion dollars in back taxes), and Bill Gates.

      Most of these people, right and left, who attained great wealth, worked their asses off and sacrificed to get it. I admire people who were able to make a success of themselves and know that I and everyone else had/has the same opportunity. I don’t “occupy” some city park or city main street to cry about “fairness” because lets face it, life isn’t fair. ( If it was, I’d be rich as well as smart and handsome…amirite? )”

      – I know a lot of Liberals, but I don’t know anyone who believes in equality of outcome. You can probably find people on the fringe that believe that, but I don’t believe it is mainstream liberalism. When they “bitch and moan” about the rich, they don’t distiguish between the rich left and the rich right. They want them all to pay more. I would say that they don’t mention the rich left as much is because the rich left agrees with them while the rich right fight to keep their low federal taxes. Plus, the liberals are looking for equality in percentages. If the average middle class man pays 20% – 30% in federal taxes and Romney, Koch, and Buffet only pay 15% – 17%, well, it looks unfair to me. But this is even further off Ryan’s topic than I had already pulled us. Get the last word in if you want, but I won’t discuss it again on this thread.

      Next you said:
      “Conservatives don’t want to do away with social programs that help the less fortunate, but we do want to make it harder for people to game the system. And lets face it, if we don’t reform these programs, there will not be any money to pay for it. If we keep traveling the path we’re on, soon the US will be in the same boat as Detroit.”

      – I agree that we don’t want people to “game the system”. But I think there are 2 approaches. one approach is to make laws and regulations that are hurtful too all the people in the system so that you can stop the “gamers”. Focus is on the bad people. The other approach is focus on the good people first and then work on the “gamers”. But don’t come up with something that hurts everyone.

      A specific example I have of this is the Fla Drug Testing law for welfare (or is it unemployment). The state is spending millions of dollars on these drug tests so that they can catch all these drug users “gaming the system”. But then only about 2% failed the drug test. So to catch those 2% and save the taxpayers from having to pay for them, they end up spending a ton of taxpayer money, they humiliate decent people who are only concerned about raising their families, and I’m not really even sure what happens to the children of someone who fails the test. And we don’t even know if the person who failed got a joint from someone else who said “man, you really to relax a bit”. But the law was passed by Republicans because they believed and wanted others to believe that there was a much larger number of people “gaming the system”. They focused on hate first.

      I absolutely don’t want people getting gov’t assistance and then going out and buying frivolous items like drugs (or cigarettes or alcohol, or frankly, any unhealthy foods). And I don’t have the answer on how to stop those people, but I don’t think making the 98% go through the test or the tax payers to spend so much on it is worth catching the 2%.

      So again, well off topic, but still focuses on my initial comment about compassion first.

      And finally you said:
      “The whole point of the radical gay agenda is to tear down traditional family values.”

      – In what ways is this mysterious gay agenda going to tear down these values? Homosexuals getting married will in no way impede with any heterosexual who wants a “traditional family”. And keep in mind that before 1967, a traditional family meant “one man and one woman of the same race” in many states. That tradition ran for hundreds of years in this country alone. If your concern is to keep tradition, then we should not allow interracial marriages either. I’ve had one woman tell me that the Bible says interracial marriages is wrong. So should we go back to enforcing that, or are we now OK with mixed race families? And tell me what “values” would be torn down?

      I’ll respond to your other comment another time.

      • Lance, thanks for the thoughtful comment. Appreciate it.

        Not sure about the bible saying interracial marriage is wrong. Was it a Christian who told you that? I would guess not. I’m unaware of the verse.

        One comment on the drug testing. Just because 2% of people fail the test doesn’t mean only 2% would be doing drugs if there was no testing. My hope is that the testing is actually helping welfare (pretty sure it’s not food stamps. 1/5 Americans are now on food stamps) recipients get clean and better themselves. In a way, it may actually be helping them, just as the money does. I actually think it is somewhat compassionate. It’s akin to the problem with Chizik at Auburn, where players are really in shambles because they didn’t want to punish drug users?

        https://ryankantor.com/2013/04/06/auburn-engulfed-in-horrible-news/

        Mike G – What do you think of the survey I discussed? What do you think the GOP will do after collecting data and reassessing?

      • I’m just a carpenter, so I don’t know much about how they “score” surveys, except that I think it’s a bunch of malarkey.

        The people the GOP needs to survey is their constituents, not their peers in congress. And they need to pay attention to what the people say and perform their jobs accordingly.

      • You said:

        – Can you see what you just did there? This is how I will rephrase what you said: “Everyone should be equal, except gays who I say can be 80% equal, because there is just something about them that is wrong or that I don’t like, so they don’t need or deserve as much equality as us heterosexuals. And they should be happy with 80% equality.” — My life would be better if I could marry my partner. According to your first statement, I should be allowed to do that to be equal. And I do not care if any religion recognizes the marriage or not, so long as my gov’t recognizes my marriage in EVERY equal way as every other equal marriage.

        So what’s wrong with a civil union? My wife and I were married in a civil union. It doesn’t make us any less married. No one is keeping you and your partner from joining together in a civil union. So I don’t consider civil unions an “80% equality” issue.

        Just to put things in perspective, I have a gay adult daughter. I love her just as much as my “hetero-normative” daughters. But I still don’t agree with gays being married in a church against the church’s wishes. And that’s where it’s headed. And government does recognize civil unions, so you’re just as equal as me and my wife…happily married for14 years, by the way. 😉

      • Ryan, yes, it was a hard-core, right wing Christian. Not representative of many Christians, but there are those like her. They use the following verses (and a couple others) to support their claim, but it is clearly all in how one interprets it. And I guess everyone is entitled to their own interpretation.

        Deuteronomy 7:1-3
        When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally.[a] Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons.

        2 Corinthians 6:14
        Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

      • I would opine that her interpretation is a bit off. Also from Corinthians:

        To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

        1 Corinthians 7:12-14 ESV

        That’s about marrying non-believers so not exactly the same, but I think those were more specific to the situation of the people being spoken or written to.

        Anyway, thanks for all the comments, you can check out this cool flow chart on tomorrow’s SCOTUS decision. Looks like the plaintiff will get over $300k in back tax refunds and benefits if DOMA is overturned.

        http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/03/24/us/how-the-court-could-rule-on-same-sex-marriage.html

      • I agree with you. But it does show how people will pick an choose what they want from the Bible and choose their own interpretation in order to please themselves. Here is another great verse:

        Lev 19: 33 – 34
        When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

  8. Lance,

    Denmark already forces churches to perform gay marriages. In England right now, they are talking about a recently passed equality bill that lawyers for the Church of England say could force them to perform gay marriages.

    And there’s also this:

    No, the First Amendment and same-sex marriage cannot coexist harmoniously. Something will have to give — and it will start with the freedom of conscience.

    Here’s why: If the law says there can be no “rational basis” for treating the union between a man and a woman as something unique — if a union between any two (or, perhaps someday, more) consenting adults is a “marriage” — then it really doesn’t matter what your conscience tells you.

    We don’t prosecute people for holding unpopular beliefs — yet — but the authorities do look askance at discrimination. That’s why we hear so much lately about caterers, photographers and florists running afoul of several states’ civil rights laws for refusing to do business with gay couples.

    True, those aren’t churches. But states such as New Jersey and Vermont have already sanctioned church-affiliated organizations for refusing to host same-sex weddings or receptions at their facilities.

    Freedom of association is also in jeopardy. California’s state senate last month voted to strip the Boy Scouts of America of its tax-exempt status because the organization won’t allow homosexual leaders. The BSA isn’t a religious group, either, though in recent years churches have been the primary sponsors of scout troops.

    It’s a slippery slope we travel and it gets steeper with each passing day.

    • Well, now I just find it funny that we are well off the original topic and even though Ryan keeps trying to reel me in, I’m going to continue with the hijacking of his post. 🙂

      So thanks for your further explanations and concerns. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like you might be OK with gay marriage so long as the law says that churches can refuse to perform their ceremonies based on their religious beliefs. After all, those churches that would perform them and would welcome them should also not be denied their right to perform those ceremonies. I know, you mention the slippery slope. But the slope has 2 sides. I fear what would happen if a bunch of Michelle Bachmans gained power and started turning back gay rights. And our friend Ryan seems to think gay marriage is OK as long as the gay couple does not get the same tax benefits as straight couples, which I still find hard to understand how that could still be considered equal. Also, you mentioned that the gov’t recognizes civil unions, but the federal gov’t and most states do not. As you say, equal recognition under the gov’t is most important.

      I’ve been giving this situation a lot of thought and it seems to me that it boils down to a couple of variables that can be rather complex. There is individual rights and freedom versus collective or group rights and freedom. And there is the question of who should be allowed to discriminate? Here is what I am thinking along these lines.

      As an individual, allowing gay marriage would not interfere with your rights at all. You would not have to marry a gay person, or perform their marriage or attend their marriage and you even have the right to protest outside their marriage. Not allowing gay rights does interfere with a gay person’s rights to choose to get married to the person he/she loves.

      But to your point, when it comes to a group, such as a church, forcing them to have a gay marriage when they don’t want to interferes with their rights. This is what made me ask myself, at what point do we as a society allow discrimination? Individuals in their own home are allowed to discriminate as much as they want and I believe everyone is OK with everyone having that right. But when a group is formed, be it church, company, non-profit org, sports team, or whatever, we as a society start to say that you (the group) can’t discriminate. Is that fair? Someone like Rand Paul would say “no”. And I can understand that on one hand, but on the other hand, I believe that if the gov’t had not stepped in with the Civil Rights Act, then the black community would still be way behind in equality in many parts of this country. So by forcing people to not discriminate, I think the gov’t did our society and our country a good thing. But it did mean that many people (when in their groups) lost their right to be how they want to be. They lost their freedom of speech as a group.

      So, does the Constitution guarantee the same freedoms to groups of people as it does to individuals? Is a corporation a person? Is a church a person? I don’t have the answer to that.

      If you believe that a church should not have to marry a gay couple because it is their right, then they should have the right to not marry an interracial couple, a black couple, a couple that only speaks Spanish, a Jewish couple, a handicap couple, a fat couple, a poor couple, etc. In trying to determine where I stand on that issue, so far I’ve come to the belief that if the gov’t is granting you tax exemption status, then you should have to follow the same policies as the gov’t. If the gov’t decides to recognize same-sex marriages and a church is being asked to perform one, then they can forego their tax exemption and choose not to do it, keeping their beliefs in place, and technically not losing their rights. I know that is not how it will work if gay marriage is recognized, but I’m just trying to walk myself through the details of it. Come with a convincing argument and I could change my mind. I certainly don’t like the idea of blocking freedom of an entire group of people because a portion of another group may not like it. Pretty much all gays do not like that they cannot get married, but only a portion of the Christian community would not like it if they were forced to not discriminate against them. And there was a large population of whites that did not like integrating with blacks, but we forced it anyway and I believe the percentage of whites that are against it now is much, much smaller than it was in the 1960s. I think if we take the Rand Paul approach and allow groups to discriminate, it would cause our country to start splitting in a whole new way that would be detrimental to the future of our nation.

      Maybe I’ll change my mind on some of this, but this is what I have been thinking and questioning over the past day or so.

      • Thanks for your thoughtful response Lance. It’s a conundrum for sure. And I’ll have to think about it.

        I’m still on the side of civil unions. But the only way that will work is if every state allows and recognizes them.

        If a church agrees to marry gay couples, more power to them, but if a church doesn’t agree with it because of their beliefs, then they shouldn’t be forced to.

        As far as tax exemptions go, maybe we need to do away with the marriage tax exemption as well as some others. 😉

        (I don’t think Ryan minds the hijack because we’re having a great discussion.)

      • Lance, you have totally hijacked the post, but Mike is right, I don’t mind it because it’s been a fun and respectful discussion. I appreciate the comments. In fact, unemotional constitutional discussions like the one you just posted are some of my favorite.

        To Lance’s comments above, you say “you wouldn’t be forced to perform a gay marriage.” Well, that’s exactly our debate. Would some churches, retreats, etc. be forced to?

        As for a church being allowed to opt not to perform a wedding for any reason, I would say if it is a part of their stated doctrine than that is ok. 1st amendment vs. discrimination and in that case the 1st amendment wins out.

        I don’t think you can ask churches to forgo their tax exemption because a federal policy disagrees with their stated beliefs. What if a federal or state law forced them to pay for a insurance policy that included the morning after pill. A lot of religions would refuse. What if it was a Catholic hospital. I don’t think they should lose their non-profit status because they have a doctrine. Especially when you consider that their doctrine isn’t the one that has changed.

        There’s a big distinction to be made between civil rights and gay rights that makes the dividing line for me. I don’t think a restaurant should be able to tell gay patrons they cannot enter. That is a case where they are being discriminated against based on their personhood, that is, who they are. Conversely, if a photographer does not want to take a job at a gay wedding they should have that freedom because it is an actual activity, in this example gay marriage, that is an activity they don’t believe in. So if a photographer doesn’t believe in celebrations (Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe in celebrations) they should be able to reject the bid. I know this can get dicey, but I think it’s a logical break.

        On a unrelated note, who you got on UGA and South Carolina? I’m giving Clemson 55% against UGA and 45% against the Cocks. I’m building a simulator (really someone has built it for me) to make the ultimate season preview next month.

  9. DOMA is unconstitutional. I promise I will not force a church to marry me and my partner if they are against it. 🙂

      • Not yet, but there will be lawsuits about it soon and it will have to change. If a couple live in MA and are married in MA, they get the Fed benefits. If later they move to GA, they lose their Fed benefits. Court case: how can someone’s marital status change in the eyes of the Fed just because they moved to a new state? So I cannot get married in another state to get benefits unless I want to live in one of those states. I do not want to move north and, in fact, plan to move back to FL in the near future.

      • No doubt. That makes for a peculiar situation, but I can see now why the courts ruled the way they did. I like the shift to state power. States essentially who can get married to who in their state and the feds honor it regardless. I also heard spousal benefits were called into question?

        Tampa? Hit me up on Facebook. I want to hear about your career.

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